Horror Suspense Mystery

      I write this now from a hospital bed not far from my hometown. Though I am labeled delirious and force-fed medications whose names I cannot pronounce, do not believe that this testament is anything other than truth.

It was two days ago, several miles away from the outer shelf reefs from the coast, when I was aboard a sailboat that drifted seemingly aimlessly over the waves. As the setting sun reflected its vibrant hue on the lapping crests, I, the schooner’s sole passenger leaned against a railing as I stared out across the waters. My name is Howard Phillips, and I was out on this solo sailing journey to find a new clarity in life.

           Three days before was my father’s funeral. My relationship with my father was a perplexing one; I looked up to and admired the man but felt like I never really knew him too well. I found myself wondering about the conversations that would never be had, the beers never drank together, the lessons and the stories that would never be taught or told. After the funeral, I had expected to feel some clarity and peace but instead found only distraught and confusion, and I now often wonder about my own life and where it could lead. I was left this small sailboat in the will, and I found it a sign of what to do next, and, without a second thought, put everything else on hold, loaded up the boat, and sailed off into the unknown with the belief that I myself could be known.

           Now with the currents pulling me ever outward from land, I treated this as an autopilot for the craft as I stared in a yearning way into the waters below. I watched as I saw a small school of fish swim by. Though I could not identify their breed, I mused at the occasional scaled adventurer who would jump from the water away from their brethren as they tasted the open air and observed a whole new, alien world. I admired these displays and began to wonder if this was some metaphor from the universe I was meant to see – some natural guidance on my own mission for self-discovery.

           As I watched the fish surface to dance above the cresting waves, I felt I caught a glimpse of something further ahead in the water. It seemed like two orbs of crimson as if two eyes were staring at me from below. But when I scanned the waters to better see these supposed eyes, they were nowhere to be found. I supposed whatever bigger fish they belonged to had swum away; or, more practically, it was a trick of the light of the setting sun as it distortedly emulated back to me.

           I shrugged away from the shimmering vision and turned to face the mast. As I did so, I saw a large onyx storm cloud approaching fast in the distance. I rushed to the wheel yet was too late as the rushing gales moved at a seemingly supernatural speed, enclosing on and whirling the small boat in all directions. As my vessel lurched aggressively to and fro, My only option was to cling to the railing for fear of losing myself to the now crushing waves which hurled against the sides of the sailboat like slapping tentacles of a great Kraken. The schooner broached and was nearly knocked down. As I was raised into the air I looked down at the opposite end of the boat and saw that the mast was nearly parallel to the water. I then peered into what I believed to be the murky depths below – except that, with a flash of thunder, there appeared to be land not far below me. With that quick blaze of light, I witnessed an unending plain of putrid mud amassed with the carcasses of decaying fish and horridly foul, less describable things protruding from the sludge. I thought I would feel relief by knowing there was land not far below should I capsize, but instead an even stronger fear gripped me; a primal fear that whispered in my heart of the unknown horrors hidden beneath the waves, as the unknown, lurking darkness between the spaces of rot and decay beckoned for I to join it in eternity.

           I witnessed and experienced all of this and more in that split second in the boat’s rocking, in that short burst of illumination. But now the ship had leveled out and rode the waves on the merciless winds, whose howls in My ears sounded more like mournful ghosts of all the lost sailors who fell to their watery graves in all the histories of man who came before me.

           On the horizon, I saw once again those dark crimson orbs from before, though now they rose from the waves instead of hiding beneath them. With churning waters to mark its rise to the surface, the thing slid into view above the dark waters. Those soulless eyes sat as two windows of malice against the face of a towering loathsomeness as it rose to face me. Two monstrous scaly arms rose to cast in my direction.

           I turned my face and cowered in a squat huddle against my forlorn vessel, unable to hold my gaze upon the goliath for fear of losing hold of my sanity. With my eyes squeezed shut and my whole self trembling I prayed for release from the leviathan’s wake.

           The sailboat lurched again, this time with such force that I was knocked into the air and hurdled into the water. I felt the unsettling sensation of the sludged mire below; the masses of decay and putrid remains pouring over and surrounding me as I sunk deeper into the concoction of fetid slime and rotted scales which cut deep in my skin. I felt it seep into my nostrils and under my eyelids, and the groping carcasses felt like an incalculable sum of vengeful hands gripping me, pulling me deeper and deeper still into my shallow grave. My consciousness faded, and all went into nothingness around me.

           That’s when I awoke next in a hospital near the coast. I don’t know how I escaped, or what became of my father’s boat. I only know I was found washed ashore – bruised and littered with abrasions, but I was alive.

           As I lay on my hospital bed, with no company but the memory of that nightmarish storm, I realized I had found the clarity for which I had set sail; though it was a clarity I would wish on no one, and wish only that we all could remain in our blissful ignorance of the truth – the truth that, as men, our place in this world is that of mere play things on a board of cosmic proportions for being far beyond mortal comprehension; that the storm that man finds themselves trapped within is at the whims of those who rise from the deep.

((This was a small tribute to one of my favorite authors, H.P. Lovecraft, with heavy inspiration from his short story, "Dagon."))

March 09, 2024 04:24

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Alexis Araneta
12:31 Mar 09, 2024

Nicholas, I'm not usually a horror fan, but this one gripped me. I write this now from a hospital bed not far from my hometown. Though I am labeled delirious and force-fed medications whose names I cannot pronounce, do not believe that this testament is anything other than truth. - Such a great intro. Other than that, you wove a chilling tale with great descriptions. Lovely job !


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Trudy Jas
10:51 Mar 15, 2024

- As men we are mere playthings on a board of cosmic proportions - Yeah, that puts things in perspective, doesn't it? Great story!


Nicholas Thomas
22:05 Mar 15, 2024

Thank you!


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LeeAnn Hively
01:56 Mar 14, 2024

Well, obviously I have to follow you from here on out. Well done.


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Emily Stoll
03:11 Mar 11, 2024

My favorite short story of yours thus far. The emotion and descriptions were palpable.


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Kailani B.
18:10 Mar 10, 2024

I knew I detected Lovecraft in this! Good job!


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Catrina Thomas
01:36 Mar 10, 2024

Well done, I love the visuals! 😍 👏


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